My "Ex-Gay" Credentials
Once upon a time…
So begin my “fairy” tale.
Looking back—with the objectivity of time, distance, and the wisdom of having lived it all—I can say now: there were signs.
From a very young age, I knew I wasn’t like other boys. And while I wasn’t able to assign a name to it, I was awareness of my...otherness. That lack of vocabulary was short-lived, because by the teen years, my peers had plenty of words—multiple slurs that let me know what I felt was unacceptable. And I wanted to be accepted.
I learned to suppress. To hide. To blend.
I learned to lie.
And I developed a keen sense (gaydar?) of boys like me.
Their “otherness” connected to mine, and brought about my earliest sexual experiences.
In college, I had a significant, yet quiet, personal conversion to the Christian faith. I don’t have the words or phrases to describe what happened to me, without using dusty theological concepts or trite “christianeze” lingo. (e.g., born again, salvation, ask Jesus into my heart, made a decision for Christ)
The next week, I confided in one of my best friends at school; his father was a Senator and we spent hours discussing politics. I’d visited in their home and knew the family to be...”religious.” He was very supportive about my newfound faith, and in the course of our conversation, I broached the subject of my sexual desires. He informed me that my attractions would be considered wrong by many in the church, though he shrugged it off. (He was a liberal, and at the time, I was the conservative Republican.) Shortly afterwards, I began attending a Fundamental Bible study group. The rigidity of this group and teacher confirmed (what an understatement!) what my friend had told me.
Well, I was serious about pleasing God, so I determined these “sinful” desires had to go away.
I began to do research and learned about the work of organizations that claimed to heal those with a “broken” orientation. I read books, attended workshops, went to counseling and got involved in a “recovery” group. I did everything I was told. I studied the Scriptures and memorized verses (actually, I memorized entire books of the Bible!) to “renew my mind.” I prayed, fasted and confessed my sins. I even confessed the sins of previous generations, since I was told my sexual desires could have been handed down from previous generations. I was anointed with oil, had demons cast out, and went through “inner healing” of past/repressed emotional trauma. I used my positive words to “speak those things that are not as if they are.” Whatever new information came in about the “root cause” of my same-sex desires, I was onboard to try it.
The more I tried and the longer I worked at it, the more compelled I felt to portray myself as “victorious.” After all, I was really trying, so I confidently told everyone that the program was working. (“Say it until you see it” we were told.)
My “testimony” began to spread, and I was being invited to speak about my experience of restoration and healing. Gay and lesbian Christians began to seek me out for counseling. Or they were sent to me by their parents or church leaders. Several national ministries as well as local counselors, pastor and Christian leaders consulted me as a resource for those wanting to change their sexual orientation. One well-known national evangelist interviewed me for a staff position.
Since I was already involved Exodus International—the umbrella group of religious-based “ex-gay” groups—I decided to start an “ex-gay” ministry in my hometown to help those with similar struggles. I served as Executive Director.
By all outward appearance, I was a success. I was Pastor of one of the fastest growing congregation in the state. I was featured in a national Christian magazine and invited to be a guest on several national TV programs. I had speaking engagements throughout the country.
But I knew the truth!
Inside, the struggles with my desires came more often and with greater intensity. Resisting also became more difficult.
Finally after many years of trying, I took an honest at my life.
I had to admit: nothing had changed.
The process did not work!
That’s when I left the ministry rather than live a lie.
I deeply regret that I was once involved in this kind of religious torment, and years ago, I offered my sincere apology.
For the past 30+ years, I've monitored “ex-gay” individuals, ministries, and organizations—studied their materials, talked with their clients and counseling those who've been harmed by these programs. I maintain regular interaction with individuals who, like me, were once involved in leadership, and was one of the founding members of a group of former “ex-gay” leaders who work to expose the deceptions and dangers of these groups.
It’s my hope that one day we can get ministers and churches to accept, embrace and affirm all children as made in the image of God, instead of investing wasted energy trying to change what is unchangeable, fix what is not broken or cure what is not a sickness.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact me. I will gladly respond.
[NOTE: This is a condensed version of My Bio]